Why I drive GERTIE

Tuesday, January 19 2016

I lived in Vancouver for 35 years and have always been a big fan of public transit. It reduces traffic congestion and pollution, and assists those who are most in need.

Gabriola is no different. Many of the people I drive to the ferry don’t have to use a car. They don’t contribute to greater line-ups or parking. I sometimes wonder whether this is appreciated by our residents. We are a car-dedicated group on this island, and it takes a lot to get us out of the convenience of driving. But it is happening. GERTIE’s ridership has been higher than expected. It continues to grow.

The cost of GERTIE on a per-rider basis is not much different from that of other public transit systems. And if GERTIE was operated as part of the Nanaimo Regional District the cost would be higher.

There are many people on Gabriola who either don’t own a car or who cannot drive. This includes seniors, people disabled from driving, children and youths, and people with low incomes. For them, GERTIE is a lifeline. My passengers often say, “I just don’t know what I would do without GERTIE.” Assisting people in these situations has been extremely rewarding.  

Finally, the tourists. They come to Gabriola to explore, wed, boat, golf and spend money. They come with a great state of mind, ready to enjoy all this island has to offer them. They love GERTIE.  

These are some of the reasons why I feel that I have been privileged to be part of the GERTIE organization. I hope it will continue after the referendum on February 13.

~ Dick Hamilton